Well, do you remember?
I’m not sure whom I should count as my first love because there are a couple of contenders, the first being the pastor’s little boy when I was in kindergarten. Smitten? I liked him so much that I talked a mile a minute around him, and my only memory of him now is his telling me, “You talk so fast I can’t understand you.”
The other candidate for my first-love memory is my high school sweetheart. I thought I would marry him someday, but it turned out that we each married other people one day apart in our hometown. Years later, I met up with him again, and he confessed to being a terrible husband--a serial adulterer--and I was stunned. I have never stopped thanking God for sparing me the fate of being his wife.
Still, in my heart of hearts, I know there is a deeper first love than all of these. Maybe you’re guessing it’s my dad, but even before my earthly father reportedly danced a jig on the day I was born, my heavenly Father loved me. In fact 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him because he first loved us.” God loved me before I was capable of returning love.
I believe that Jesus is God’s clearest expression of his love for us, and it is Jesus who is my shining knight on a white horse, my savior, and in essence, my first love.
But I didn’t always feel that way. For a time, the focus of my existence and devotion was to my boyfriend (now husband). Through some hard lessons, the Lord showed me that although my husband is a good man, he is not a “god-man.” That is, he cannot be, nor was he intended to be, my all-in-all, go-to source for having all of my needs met. That is not who God created him to be, nor is it any husband’s role.
But we lose sight of our first love sometimes, and we seek affirmation and significance in other people or things. Then, of course, we feel dejected, misunderstood, under-appreciated and resentful.
Ironically, that kind of emotional pain is often what it takes to help us remember that as great as earthly love is, there’s no comparison to the sacrificial, faithful love of Christ, and that’s the way it should be.
Jesus always understands me, now matter how fast I talk to him! He is faithful even when I am prone to wander: “If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful. Christ cannot deny who he is" (2 Timothy 2:13). May I never take his faithful love for granted; may I never allow my devotion to my “First Love” grow cold as the Ephesians had in Revelation 2:4-5.
I have a lot to be thankful for on this Valentine’s Day. I’ve been married 23 years to a wonderful man who helps clean house, plunges toilets, occasionally bathes my little dog and brings me coffee every morning, which is no small favor, since I imagine that experience is like sticking your arm through the cage bars of a grizzled old lioness who has morning breath.
Yes, he’s a keeper.
My husband is a gift from the Lord, the very best earthly gift I could have received. But more importantly, I treasure the Giver of the gift, and that keeps the “Valentine’s Day” earthly kind of love in perspective. In other words, my First Love deserves first place in my heart.
I hope that you recognize your “First Love” today and spend a few intimate moments with him.
1. What valuable lessons have you learned through earthly love relationships?
2. If you wrote a love letter to God today, what would it say?
3. Are you in danger of allowing your love for Jesus to grow cold, as the Ephesians did? If so, what could you do today to remember and re-focus your love?
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